Explore To-hike - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

To-hike Map

I have mixed feelings about this hike.
The trailhead is somewhat easy to access (located at the very back of bay view campground). Limited parking especially on busy weekends.
You get incredible views of Emerald Bay from several view points on your way up.
There are lots of switchbacks on your way up. LOTS of elevation gain!
Granite Lake is lovely and a very nice place to take a breather.
There are two peaks:
The northern peak has better views of emerald bay. I did not see a clear trail to this peak.
The southern peak is about 200ft higher in elevation, has better views of desolation wilderness. The trail to this peak is very clear.
Dog friendly!

on Ralston Peak Trail

7 days ago

Great work out in a short distance.

A little steep at some points, but views at the end make it worth it

Great view from the top!

This is an amazing hike! Anyone with some hiking experience can do it w/o a problem! It drizzled all the time but we still enjoy it very much! On a clear day the views must be breathtaking as they were on a rainy day! I totally recommend it!

10 days ago

One of my faves. Short and sassy!

12 days ago

Completed this trail with two friends and small dog. Nothing major for the majority of the way. Typical desolation hike in that the trail is a lot of large rocks and dirt.

Trail head at the end of the parking lot with a vehicle gate across it. First two miles are pretty uneventful with only the soda springs and old resort to be seen. Preservation work is going on at the resort. Please be considerate of that.

The rest of the trail is switch back upon switch back until you reach the top. Coming from the east coast, I was fairly used to this.

The lake is as beautiful as the pictures show. Crystal clear, blue, rimmed with mountains. The water is still as glass and cold as ice.

Stayed up there for about an hour.

Total trip about 6 hours.

15 days ago

Note about the drive to trailhead: Fallen Leaf Lake Road is overdue for some maintenance, get ready for some giant potholes and bumps.

This is a trail I've overlooked for years. While the lakes aren't too remarkable you will have a pleasant time arriving to them - the series of switchbacks are mild and elevation gain is gradual. This is a good hike to introduce someone who isn't yet an avid hiker (the views may transform them). A benefit of this trail is that it connects to turnoffs that link to Mt Tallac and Lake Aloha.

The Desolation Wilderness hikes near South Lake Tahoe always seems to be the more crowded option. If you are in the mood for solitude you may want to go elsewhere.

I did this hike on 8/28/18. The climb up from the trailhead is a pretty good pull but not too tough. The views at the summit are really nice. The trail to Velma Lakes is kind of barren and desolate, I'm thinking now I know why it's called Desolation Wilderness. At the first lake it was so beautiful I was really glad I had my camera. Went over to see Middle Velma then turned back and headed to Fontanillis Lake. Once again I was glad to have brought my camera! From there I stopped at Dicks Lake, then took the Eagle Falls trail back to The trailhead. What a wonderful hike and not too hard. I love the Desolation Wilderness.

22 days ago

I did this trip on 8/23/18. This was my first time in the Desolation Wilderness and I loved every minute of it. The hike to Gilmore isn't too hard and the trail is easy to follow. Lake Gilmore is a beautiful lake and when I was there I was the only one around. I went to Mt. Tallac from Gilmore and it it sure easier than the North side of fallen Leaf Lake. Of course the views are spectacular and for me especially viewing the mountains looking toward desolation wilderness. i went back to Gilmore and returned the same way. Great hike and not too hard.

Great view at the top...well
worth it! The thing that was hard tho there were no creeks for water. It’s more a fall winter spring hike.Still a great hike tho!!!

Spectacular views on this well groomed trail!

great vista views up and down

Kind of a disappointing backpacking trip. The permit system kinda sucks if you want to be secluded...After the first night, backpackers can camp wherever they want, not just in their zone. Cathedral Lake ended up being extremely busy and there are only two decent places to camp. Also, be very aware that people will be hiking up the the peak of Mt. Tallac as early as 3 AM to catch the sunrise. I understand hikers need to be loud to warn bears, but blasting electronic music and hollering was a bit much.

Tough hike, but the views along the way are breathtaking.

Such a beautiful and amazing hike. Great incline.

29 days ago

There was a light shower for an hour early this morning, but it cleared up! Beautiful sunny day after that. Very nice trail with little incline. Come early because the parking lot is always full.

Awesome trail! Well worth the effort! My wife and I hiked it with our 3 daughters, 4, 8, and 10. Took just a hair over 2 hours to get to the peak. Absolutely breathtaking views. And the girls loved it. Best hike ever.

1 month ago

This is one of my favorite places in the world.... if camping, I highly recommend going past the end of the trail to this private campsite near several lake inlets. Truly stunning. The water was some of the warmest I’ve felt in the area in July

This was my first solo backpacking trip and will be hard for the next ones to compare to this place! I didn't have a map or a solid plan but I started at Bayview early afternoon in August and make it to Dick's lake by sunset. Camped Dick's that night and did a loop of fontanillis and Velma lakes the next morning. Finished at eagle lake trail and hitch hiked back to Bayview. I plan on returning next year for a 2-3 day trip.

My first peak hike. Stunning views at the top.

Beautiful hike! Elevation gain from the start all the way up! View from the top is spectacular!

1 month ago

This hike is fab!!! I went in late June with my cousins, during a very hot time of day. So hear this: Bring at least 3-4 bottles of water and make sure everyone in your party does, too!!!! Just every time you hike, make sure everyone has plenty of water. Although I was prepared, all my cousins only had 1 or 2 bottles, and 1 of them brought nothing. So I shared a lot, and so did my uncle, who just brought a cooler backpack filled with water and tea. There are no water sources or bathrooms at all.

Anyway, as long as your totally hydrated, this is a great hike! The further up the mountain we got, the louder my exclamations were at the lovely view. It's steep for almost all of it, and there are rock scrambles along the way. As you approach the summit, it's all rock- small rocks. So be careful with your footing.

Reaching the peak is simply incredible. All the negativity from being thirsty, hot, and tired evaporated. an immense view of Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness, and so many other lakes and snow surrounded us. Although we saw snow, none was on the trail. At the top of the mountain, there's a small box with a few little notebooks and pencils where past hikers signed in and wrote nice comments. If you go, be sure to bring a small notebook, because when we went, all the notebooks were full. So maybe you'd like to add another and be the first entry.

It was an amazing hike. I totally recommend it!

Amazing hike. My Garmin clocked it at 4.5mi and about 1,400ft elevation gain...took us 3 hours round trip. Be prepared to climb - no rock scrambling but a lot of vertical starting at the trail head and going all the way up. Totally worth the work

Good 5 mile hike out and back. Beautiful views with a lot of other hikers coming through. Overall increase in elevation was about 900 feet from the parking lot. Please don’t feed the grouse. A pair was calmly walked alongside us for 20 feet or so.

1 month ago

Hiked from the Glen Alpine TH on 08/29/18. Like most trials in the Desolation Wilderness, rocks and more rocks. Nice lake, but no signs of fish activity, BUT there were signs of bear activity. Evidently, a bear was at the camp site 50 yards from mine and climbed a tree to get to the food bags. The bear was approximately 25 yards from the the group camping there and stayed there devouring their food while they helplessly watched in fear banging on pots and pans and blowing whistles. After 45 minutes, the bear left fat and happy! Well, we are in their homes, and bears will be bears.

1 month ago

Loved this hike- somewhat rocky but a nice challenge! Our 2 Golden’s loves the swim in the lake!

1 month ago

Great day hike. The elevation gain is fairly mild for most of the trail. The view from the summit is spectacular. If you want to plan your next backpacking destination in the Desolation Valley, then Ralston Peak provides the best vantage point with less effort than the surrounding peaks.

This was definitely a hard hike going up... It is very steep almost the whole way. My asthma wasn’t having any of it. But we made it to granite lake and it was totally worth it. Gorgeous lake, and amazing views on the way up.

very enjoyable

Load More